Welcome to another week of reviews! We’ll spend
most of it covering some of the Black Star series of
promo cards that have released over the last few months.
First up is M Gengar-EX (XY: Black Star Promos
XY166), easily distinguished from the original M
Gengar-EX (XY: Phantom Forces 35/119,
121/119) because the art features the rare alternate
palette (or “shiny”) version of a Mega Gengar in the
artwork. So… what’s it like in terms of gameplay
relevant stats? Starting with what is so obvious
you’ll notice it before you even read the card’s name,
M Gengar-EX is a Psychic Type. Many Psychic
and Fighting Type Pokémon are Psychic Weak, but most
Darkness and Metal Type Pokémon are Psychic Resistant;
Weakness is a much stronger (and far less balanced)
mechanic than Resistance so that still works in the
Psychic Types favor. I’m not seeing any counters
specific to the Type, though they’ve got some Type
explicit support, the bits worth mentioning being
Dimension Valley, Mystery Energy, and
Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119;
Generations RC11/RC32). The first two are
pretty obvious, but the last one is just a solid partner
for Gengar-EX and its hit-and-run tactics.
The Psychic Type also has some potent members that don’t
require being used on Type, but are enhanced by it like
Mew-EX. Not the top Type, but good.
is (of course) a Mega Evolution, but humor me as I run
through what that means for my own sake and those new to
the game. Your turn ends when you Mega Evolve one
of your in play Pokémon, robbing you of a chance to
attack, preventing you from Mega Evolving multiple cards
in a turn, etc. You can avoid this drawback with
Gengar Spirit Link. M Gengar-EX can tap
the tiny bit of Mega Evolution Stage support, but that
also means dealing with the tiny bit of Mega Evolution
counters; there are some significant cards among both
like Mega Turbo (for support) and Giratina-EX
(XY: Ancient Origins 57/98, 93/98) (as an example
of a counter). It also means being a Pokémon-EX,
so M Gengar-EX gives up an extra Prize when KO’d,
has to deal with some Pokémon-EX specific counters, and
is excluded from certain beneficial effects; Silver
Bangle gives us an example of both of those last
two. It does come with some benefits; instead of
Evolving from a Stage 2 Gengar, M Gengar-EX
Evolves from Gengar-EX and being a pseudo-Stage 1
is much better than being a pseudo-Stage 3 (even needing
a Spirit Link). No Mega Evolution has
failed to enjoy an HP boost when compared to its Basic
Pokémon-EX counterpart, and I am aware of no Basic
Pokémon-EX that is not at least 20 HP larger than its
specifically has 210 HP; 40 over Gengar-EX, which
is in turn 40 over the most recent Gengar (XY:
BREAKthrough 60/162; Generations 35/83).
When not facing decks built to OHKO just about anything
or Darkness Type decks, M Gengar-EX should be
able to take at least one hit without being KO’d.
That Darkness Weakness is pretty dangerous; Darkness
Type decks are not always on top, but it seems
like at worst they fall towards the bottom of the
competitive lists before something reinvigorates them. M
Gengar-EX does get to enjoy Fighting Resistance,
which has a better chance of mattering thanks to the
aforementioned 210 HP, but Weakness is far more powerful
(and much less balanced) than Resistance. The
Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you can likely pay it
up front but high enough you’ll probably miss it later.
So far no Mega Evolution has had more than one attack;
some have an Ancient Trait but that isn’t an issue here.
M Gengar-EX can use “Hollow Geist” for [PPPC] to
do 120 damage and afflict the opponent’s Active with
both Confusion and Poison. Confusion is probably a
non-issue unless your opponent can’t shake it… which is
true of most Special Conditions, but in this case
Confusion will offer some (flippy) protection that -
when it works and your opponent’s attack fails - also
kicks in some extra damage counter placement. As
long as Poison is being blocked it’s extra damage
counter placement makes Hollow Geist effectively hit for
130. Not the most important HP threshold, but an
improvement. For the Energy invested though, I
expect more from an attack; even with stuff like Max
Potion and Dimension Valley this will not
be a quick, reliable set up; your strategy will have to
pick one or the other. For this investment on a
Mega Evolution, I should be looking at something at
least approaching a OHKO… and we’re not.
I’ve mentioned Gengar-EX (XY: Phantom Forces
34/119; 114/119) before, but let’s make it official.
It is a Psychic Type, Basic Pokémon-EX with 170 HP,
Darkness Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost
[CC], no Ability, no Ancient Trait, and two attacks.
The first is “Night Attack” for [C] which allows you to
select one of your opponent’s Pokémon and place three
damage counters on it. The second is “Dark
Corridor” for [PCC], doing 60 damage, Poisoning the
opponent’s Active, and giving you the option of
sending Gengar-EX to the Bench. This card
was first reviewed
and Gengar-EX did manage a porter deck that has
been competitive at least some of the time. Night
Attack is a decent Bench hit for the cost, especially
after Dimension Valley; placing damage
counters instead of doing damage meant it was unaffected
by most Bench protection effects. Dark Corridor is
built around combos; not just Dimension Valley to
turn it into a two Energy attack, but various “dance
partners” to promote after attacking, usually something
with a protective or disruptive Ability. This is
your only Gengar-EX option, but it’s a good
foundation. I think we scored it pretty accurately
back in the day. I don’t believe this has been
reprinted, so for now it is only legal for Expanded
The other M Gengar-EX is XY: Phantom Forces
35/119 (and 121/119) has similar stats to today’s
version, but with 10 more HP and [C] less Retreat
- so 220 HP and Retreat Cost [C] - a good start.
Its attack is “Phantom Gate” and it costs [PCC],
definitely more affordable than Hollow Geist, but
unfortunately somewhat unpredictable, because it allows
you to copy the an attack from one of your opponent’s
Pokémon. You get to ignore stuff like printed
Energy costs, but other conditions still apply.
Some attacks are much easier to copy than others, and
sometimes even being easy to copy isn’t enough.
For example copying Night March off of Joltik (XY:
Phantom Forces 26/119) requires you have Night March
Pokémon in your own discard pile, otherwise it will do
zero damage. Even if you did have them, you’re
using a Mega Evolution with an attack that costs [PCC]
to replicate an attack that costs [CC]. Night
March decks often use their own Mew-EX or Mew
(XY: Fates Collide 29/124) to copy this attack as
well, so even with Dimension Valley to shave [C]
off the Energy cost, odds are you’re paying [P] more
than your opponent. When you do pull off a strong
attack at a discount, though, it is great. We
reviewed this M Gengar-EX
Baby Mario seems to have had this card’s number while
aroramage and myself were too generous. It too is
legal only for Expanded play.
So should you run today’s M Gengar-EX?
Probably not. It is Standard legal but unless I
missed an new (or reprint) of Gengar-EX, you have
no way to actually get it into play. If we get
something, then it would be mediocre at best, barring
matchups where exploiting Psychic Weakness is important.
In Expanded, Hollow Geist just isn’t worth the effort as
it is four Energy (or three plus Dimension Valley)
just for a reliable 2HKO instead of a OHKO. It
also isn’t legal for Limited play since it is a promo,
and so not included in any product compatible with this
format. Otherwise if it were reprinted into
a set it would be “okay”, assuming the set also included
a version of Gengar-EX (and maybe Gengar
Spirit Link as well).
M Gengar-EX (XY: Black Star Promos XY166)
has a pricey attack that has some combo opportunities in
Expanded, but that is where there are answers to all
such combos, and other cards do it better. That is
better than in Standard play where, as far as I can
tell, you lack a Gengar-EX to play it (Gengar
Spirit Link is absent as well). This shiny
can’t even shine in Limited play because it is a promo.
Not a thrilling start to the week, but at least it is a
promo that didn’t get stuck in Japan.
M Gengar-EX in his shiny form!
Arguably this is the better form of
M Gengar-EX, depending on what you're looking for. While
the original's Phantom Gate can copy any attack and is
as versatile as the card pool itself, this M Gengar-EX
has Hollow Geist, a 4-for-120 move that both Poisons AND
Confuses! A bit of a crazy set of bits and pieces there,
but not a bad set of Status Conditions to mix together.
You can keep damaging the opponent between turns, and
unless they retreat, they'll have to face the 50/50
chance that they might either hit you or take even more
damage. It's actually not as bad as it seems.
Course Crisis Vine is the much
better combination of Paralysis and Poison, but M Gengar-EX
brings something else to the table at least.
Unfortunately, Hollow Geist might be a little overcosted
for what it provides - it really should be 3-for-120
that does both Status effects to be competitively
viable, but then again when was the last time you saw
anyone playing the Phantom Forces M Gengar-EX?
Standard: 2.5/5 (if I'm not
mistaken, I think this is the only one available in
Standard right now, but without Gengar Spirit Link it's
Expanded: 3.5/5 (even with it, it's
still gotta compete with his cousin, which just gives a
M Gengar deck options - copy attacks or hit hard for
Limited: N/A (and of course, he's a
promo, so there's really nothing to worry about in
regards to his usage in a single set)
Arora Notealus: Shiny Gengar is a
really cool Pokemon and probably one of the more
distinct shiny Pokemon out there. Sometimes you just
need more than a slightly different shade of green in
order to distinguish a shiny from something else, AND
NO, THE STAR ANIMATION ALONE ISN'T THAT HELPFUL.
Next Time: Darkness approaches, and
a Pokemon arrives to signal...the horizon...